British researchers have reported that they use plant lignin to develop easily degradable micro-particles that can be used to replace plastic particles which are currently added to daily chemicals to reduce contamination of the ocean by plastic particles.
Diameter of less than 0.5 mm spherical plastic particles are often added to the cleanser, shower gel, toothpaste, skin cream and other daily necessities, so that the product has a smooth sense of use. As the size is too small, plastic particles can not be filtered by the existing sewage treatment system, which will eventually flow into the ocean, it takes hundreds of years to degrade.
It is estimated that washing a shower will lead to 100,000 plastic particles into the ocean. Environmental experts worry that plastic particles will be swallowed by small marine life and then into the food chain, endangering wild animals, and may even flow to the human table.
British University of Bath said in a press release that the school's research on sustainable chemical technology experts, the use of lignin to produce a micro-particles, instead of plastic particles added to the daily necessities. Lignin is a tough fiber which widely found in plants. The researchers dissolved the lignin, passing the solution through a microporous membrane, forming tiny rounds of droplets, followed by solidification.
Researchers say the strength of the particles is sufficient to meet the daily application requirements, but into the sewer system is easy to be microbial decomposition into harmless carbohydrates, even into the natural environment will soon be degraded. They will work with industry to develop methods for mass production of such particles. On top of the alternatives, the plastic recycling such as polystyrene recycling is also a good way to deal with the problems.